Search Tips

What Gets Searched?

All of GAO's publications and web pages are searched, including reports, testimonies, legal decisions, bid protests, and content on GAO's website. Search returns results based on matches in information about products, including title, summary, and topics, as well as in the full text of PDF files and web pages. Handwritten and image-based documents are not fully searchable.

Getting Started

  • Enter a keyword or phrase in the Search box, and click the Search button.
  • Use the dropdown menus to change the sort order or the number of results per page.
  • Use the options on the left to show results for Reports & Testimonies, Legal, or Other Sources, or Refine by Date, Topic, or Agency.
  • Narrow further with context sensitive subcategories. 

Basic Search Features

Auto Suggest

Suggested terms appear below the search box as you type. You can pick one of them or keep typing.

Have some keywords or a topic area?

Type the terms in the box, and click Search.
Use quotes for a phrase, for example, "aviation security"
Use advanced search to automatically build more complex queries or use Boolean operators yourself (see below)

Have a report number?

Enter it in the Search box. Include leading and following letters if you know them. This is not case sensitive. For example, you can enter GAO-07-370T, gao-06-729g, nsiad-00-211, or B-208730.

Want to sort results?

Run your search first, then...
Pick a sort option from the dropdown. Example: Sort by: Newest First.

Want to see more results?

Run your search first, then use a pager at the bottom of the page.

Want to see just Blog Posts?

Filter Results > Content Type > Other > Blog Posts

Want to use Boolean Operators?

The BASIC search, by default, looks for items that match every term you include in the search box.

Use Boolean operators to specify terms to be combined through logic operators. The search supports AND, OR and NOT as Boolean operators (Note: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS). Search terms and phrase separated by Boolean operator must be enclosed in double quotes: "london, CT" OR "london"

Advanced Search Features

Use up to 10 Search Criteria

Add criteria with the Add a Line link near the bottom of the search. This is how you create more complex search strategies similar to constructing searches using the Boolean AND, OR and NOT operators.

Remove criteria with the sign [-] beside each row.

The maximum number of rows is 10.


Choose Must Include to require the search terms that have been entered in the row. (This works like the AND operator.)

Choose Must NOT Include to ensure the words in the row do not appear in the search results. (This works like the NOT operator.)

Choose May include to increase the likelihood that a term is returned without requiring it.

Some words, all words or this exact phrase

Single words are treated as single search terms. Multiple words are treated as an exact phrase.

You do not need to put the terms or phrases in quotes within the Advanced Search form.

Date filtering

Select a date range in the Narrow by date dropdown menus to filter by date. This limits the search by the date of the original document, which could be earlier than the date that the document was published to the website.

More Search Details


The search automatically uses stemming, a process that matches a given search term with related words in order to better identify relevant search results. For instance, a search for "mining" will also match "miner" and "mines."

Example of the OR Operator

The OR operator links two terms and finds a result if either of the terms exist.

To search for results containing either internal controls or program integrity, use the query: "internal controls" OR "program integrity."

Example of the AND Operator

The AND operator finds results where both terms exist anywhere in the text of a single item.

To search for items that contain both Medicare and prescription drugs, use the query "Medicare" AND "prescription drugs."

Example of the NOT Operator

The NOT operator excludes results that contain the term or phrase after NOT.

To search for results that discuss retirement but not the military, use the query: "retirement" NOT "military"

Note: The NOT operator can be used with just one term or phrase. For example, the following query can be used in search: NOT “retirement benefits”

Single and Multiple Character Wildcards

The single character wildcard is a question mark [?]. It searches for terms that match with the single character replaced. For example, to search for woman or women, you can use the search wom?n. 

Search for any word that starts with environ by using wildcard character asterisk [*]. To search for environment and environmental, use the query [environ*].

You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term.

Note: you cannot use an asterisk [*] or question mark [?] symbol as the first character of a search.

Proximity Searches

The tilde symbol [~] finds words that are within a specific distance of each other.

Use the tilde symbol [~] at the end of the last word. Use quotation marks to group the words you want to find near each other.

To search for regulation and agriculture within 10 words of each other, use the query: "regulation agriculture"~10


You may add up to 10 search fields to the search form.

Use parentheses [ ( ) ] to group clauses to form subqueries. This can be very useful if you need to control the Boolean logic for a query.

For example, to search for either Washington or Georgia and state, use the query: (Washington OR Georgia) AND "state" 

This means "state" must exist and either “Washington” or "Georgia" may exist in the results.

Fuzzy Searches

Use fuzzy searches to find words spelled similarly to the query you have entered.

Use the tilde symbol [~] at the end of a single word.

For example, if you aren't sure how to spell the name Susquehanna use the fuzzy search on your best guess of the spelling:  Sussquehana~

You can also supply an additional, optional parameter to specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example:  Sussquehana~0.6

The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.